Thursday, October 25, 2012

In His presence

Being in the presence of the is that possible this side of heaven? What happens when we are in His presence?  Who can survive it?  How do we enter?

Not all of us get to visit heaven and return like little 4 year old Colton Burpo did. Moses radiated after being the presence of the Lord.  Another time he had to be protected in the cleft of a rock as the glory passed in front of Him lest He die.  I've got it on good authority that the God who saves us also wants to be our friend and share secrets with us. This means more than liking His status.  It requires a face to face.

Entering the presence of the Lord only happens intentionally.  "No one who lives in this world is a friend of God accidentally," writes Beth Moore.  Beyond talking about it as something does one get there?

Once again, Reid ends up being my teacher.  We went to a worship service Monday night that was outside our usual paradigm of church.  It was in a church, but there was no program, no end time, and no song lyrics.  There was worship--very expressive worship--including dancing, banners, and almost all eyes closed.  As soon as the band began, Reid knew what to do.  Innately, he was behaving appropriately doing things we haven't really modeled or taught him.

"Yes Jesus!" came out of his mouth between songs. "Hallelujah!" after another.  Our roles reversed as he put his finger over my lips to shush me between songs.  "They don't clap between songs here, mom," he instructed. Always nice to have social norms explained in a matter of fact tone. I just can't remember when I was the one needing that.  Seated between Jim and me, (our customary containment strategy) Reid must've flashed Jim the LOVE handsign half a dozen times.  As if to say, "Thank you for bringing me here and being here with me." Everything about his body language said, "I am in my element." He stood up whenever he was inclined and it wasn't out of place.  He reached for the heavens and no one wondered what he was doing. He pogo jumped up and down in utter joy and I wanted to join him.

As we concluded a soaking chorus of "Holy Spirit you are welcome here" he blurted out, "That was a good song mom." Those around us grinned ear to ear in agreement. Later, he whispered enthusiastically, "MOM, it's like when Tobias comes." I took this to mean they worship in spirit and in truth during their hour together on Tuesdays.  It must feel the same to him; not a performance but humbly entering the presence of the Lord and experiencing peace. At another sweet spot, he leaned into me putting his head not so much on my shoulder as near my heart in lil' boy love. I couldda melted right there.  It's all been worth it. This boy-man is charismatic in every sense of the word.  In the spirit, there is nothing autistic about him. Jim and I were the ones appearing a tad out of sync.

After Dr. Joe Ozawa shared a stirring and straightforward testimony, people were invited forward for prayers of healing.  One might have mistaken this as the crux of the evening.  Results-oriented me, always looking for a sign or wonder, will admit to being disappointed that my hungry husband wanted to go home and eat. It was 9:00 after all. Reid was the first one to the car walking taller and more confidently than ever.  "Don't you want to go up for prayer Reid?  Come on..." I urged.  "No, Mom. You and Dad go. I'll wait in the car."  He'd already put his arms wide around both of us giving our outside shoulders a little push when the last call was given for anyone else to come forward.

By then, Reid had gotten what he needed.  The meat of the program for him was entering the presence of the Lord.  At once dramatic and subtle, that mysterious reality was undeniable.

Revisiting one of the songs this morning (below) I am compassionate with myself.  It's not easy to "let go of your heart...let go of your head" as the lyrics prompt, after years of hypervigilant monitoring and constant commentary, which is how Reid and I have navigated this natural world for 18 years.  Almost everything requires a directive, explanation, or advance notice. I have my guard up for street crossing, video displays, and any number of other enticing traps both literal and figurative.  Ready all the time...for anything.  Like I'm in the presence of an enemy. And we are. I need to watch my back. I am the designated driver and responsible adult for myself and another who is vulnerable and less aware.  Or is he?

So I find myself face down, eyes closed, putting concerted effort into intimacy with God. For me, it's easier when I'm alone. No one needs a meal, homework help or a prescription filled. No one's watching. I don't have anywhere I need to be in an hour. Music takes me there. I carve out the time and take the first step. You know what appears?

An image floats into my mind's's me sitting on a loveseat contained with Jesus. This time I'm in Reid's head leaning in...not so much on His shoulder as close to His heart...silently with words unspoken...I sense love and trust and gratitude all rolled into one physical gesture of knowing and being known.

And something, if not everything, changes.

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  Jeremiah 33:3

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. Exodus 34:28-30 

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is ... the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.  1 Corinthians 2 :11-13

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